Marriage Matters

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Civic, religious, civil rights leaders join to declare ‘Marriage Matters'

Full-page newspaper ads feature diverse allies committed to the fight for dignity and equality for gay couples

In full-page newspaper advertisements appearing coast to coast during July 2006, more than 60 civic, religious, labor and civil rights leaders and organizations declared their commitment to working toward equality for gay and lesbian families.

The ads, titled "Marriage Matters," are appearing in 50 publications, including the New York Times, the Fresno Bee (Calif.), the Cedar Rapids Gazette (Iowa), the Raleigh News & Observer (N.C.), the Capital Gazette (Md.), the Cook County Daily Herald (Ill.) and La Opinion (Calif.). The ads featured photographs of five same-sex couples who have been together from five to 53 years and read, on behalf of the diverse signatories, "They’re committed. So are we."

Two-thirds of the signatories were non-gay allies, including nine prominent labor leaders, heads of six leading civil rights organizations, 11 religious leaders and nine mayors, in addition to 14 national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations.

"We want the nation to know that we are united in fighting to end discrimination against gay and lesbian families, including their exclusion from marriage, with all its protections, responsibilities and human significance," said Alice Huffman, president of the California Conference of the NAACP. "We're also underscoring that not only are we in this for the long haul, but that the gay community has real allies."

Said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels: "Many of us remember a time when the marriages of interracial couples were not recognized in many states. Fortunately, that has changed. Now it is time that gay and lesbian couples have the same rights as all married couples; things such as refinancing a house or visiting a family member in the hospital. The right of gay and lesbian people to marry is fundamental to our equality and humanity."

"Public support for legal recognition of same-sex couples has steadily grown in spite of an enormous and well-funded campaign based on defamation and fear, including dozens of anti-gay state constitutional amendments battles," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Even our opponents understand it is not a question of whether we will win dignity and equality for our families, but when."